52 Ancestors: #38 Brick Wall – Unraveling the Tangled Surnames

Last month Luxracines hosted the 12th National Day of Genealogy and Local History. Several versions of our members’ family trees were featured in an exhibit. This colored 9-generation fan chart of my family tree was printed out on DIN A0 paper (33.1 in × 46.8 in) for presentation. At the time of printing, I didn’t know who the parents of my 4th great-grandmother Maria Katharina SCHACMOTTE were. I used BRICK WALL as a placeholder for their names.

When I wrote about her son, my third great-grandfather Johann WAGNER, two years ago I knew when he married in 1830 that his mother’s maiden name was SCHAEMOTTE per the index of his marriage record. The FB Mettendorf listed his mother as Maria Katharina SCHACMOTTE with the surname variations: SCHAKEMUTTE and JAQUEMOT.  All other information on Johann’s parents and siblings were at the time unknown. I wasn’t expecting to open the door in this brick wall anytime soon.

Preparatory Research

In preparation for this post, I used several family books of German towns (Familienbuch=FB) as seen below in the sources. I checked the FB Fließem for Johann WAGNER born about 1804 in Fließem to Matthias WAGNER and Maria Katharina SCHACMOTTE. Although the FB Mettendorf gives information on his life after marriage, only an estimated year of birth in Fließem was included. His parents’ names seen in the Mettendorf compilation were also found (with similar but not exact spelling) in the indexed German Marriages 1558-1929 on FamilySearch.

1830 Marriage Record. Indexed information on FamilySearch. No image of record available.

In the FB Fließem, I found a WAGNER family with a son named Johann born on 16 June 1804 in Fließem. The father’s name was Matthias and the mother’s name was Maria Katharina. However, the mother’s maiden name was HARTERT.

Could this be the right family? Johann’s mother was born during the time period when surnames would change depending on, for example, where they lived, i.e. house name. Could this be the case with Maria Katharina HARTERT?

An example of the pedigree of Johann Wagner with names found in several family books

I went back one generation to the entry for the parents of Maria Katharina HARTERT. The father was a HARTERT and the mother was a HEINZ. As I studied the information for the family group, I found they had only three daughters.  One died at the age of four years. The other was three years older than Maria Katharina. This older sister Anna Maria married Adam SCHACKMOD in 1787. Is it possible Maria Katharina and her parents lived with the SCHACKMOD couple following the marriage and were then known by this variation of SCHACMOTTE?

Can I assume Matthias WAGNER and Maria Katharina HARTERT were the parents of my Johann WAGNER? If they aren’t, then I will be following the wrong paternal and maternal grandparents.

Family books are organized in alphabetical order by the husband’s surname. To make searching easier, the compilers of these books also include an index at the back for the maiden names found in the book. When I checked the FB Mettendorf‘s maiden names index I noticed two family numbers were given for Maria Katharina SCHACMOTTE:

  • M3013 for my Johann WAGNER’s family group
  • M3020 for a Peter WAGNER son of Math. Wagner and Maria Kath. Schakemut  of Fließem.

The family group entry M3020 showed Peter was living and working as a Dienstknecht or servant in Mettendorf at the time he married a lady from Ferschweiler in 1837. Dim. (Dimissoriales) was written before the date of marriage indicating the nuptials were recorded in Mettendorf as he had permission to marry in Ferschweiler. No further information was given for the couple.

My next step was to check the  FB Ferschweiler for an entry for the bride and her parents and/or an entry for this couple.

In the FB Ferschweiler, Peter WAGNER born 5 August 1806 in Fließem was listed as a servant (Knecht) and son of Matth. Wagner, Schäfer 30.12.1814 u. Maria-Kath. Hartert + 31.07.1823. There is a cross-reference to the entry in the FB Mettendorf. The compiler of the Ferschweiler family book had made the connection between Maria Katharina SCHAKEMUT and  Maria Katharina HARTERT. He had probably gone through the same process of comparing the names, dates, and places to come to this conclusion.

As family books deal with only one location, a family may not be complete in one town book. Children born to a couple in a different town due to the occupational move of the father would not be included. As children married spouses from other towns the continuation of the line would end in the book. Compilers of family books today have a much better opportunity to cross-reference a family who lived in several locations during their lifetime as many more family books are available.

Matthias WAGNER and Anna Katharina HARTERT

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Matthias WAGNER
Parents:  Johann Nicolaus WAGNER and Anna Maria KLEIWER
Spouse: Anna Katharina HARTERT aka SCHACMOTTE
Parents of Spouse: Johann HARTERT and Elisabeth HEINZ
Whereabouts: Sefferweich, Fließem, Mettendorf (Germany)
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 4th great-grandfather

1. Matthias WAGNER
2. Johann “Joannes” WAGNER
3. Magdalena WAGNER
4. Katharina “Catherine” PÖPPELREITER
5. Nicolas WILDINGER
7. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

The parents and siblings of Matthias WAGNER

Johann Nicolaus WAGNER married Anna Maria KLEIWER on 23 April 1759 in Sefferweich. They were the parents of three children:

  • Matthias WAGNER was born on 21 January 1761 in Sefferweich
  • Gerhard WAGNER (1764- ) born 18 January 1764 in Sefferweich
  • Anna Maria WAGNER (1767- ) born  2 June 1767 in Sefferweich

The parents and siblings of Maria Katharina HARTERT

Johann HARTERT(1739-1803) married Elisabeth HEINZ ( -1794) on 12 May 1767 in Fließem. They were the parents of the following children all born in Fließem:

  • Anna Maria HARTERT (1767- ) born 3 July 1767
  • Maria Katharina HARTERT born 19 August 1770
  • Johanna HARTERT (1774-1778) born 28 May 1774. She died  12 July 1778.

The oldest daughter of Johann and Elisabeth, Anna Maria HARTERT married Adam SCHACKMOD on 20 December 1787 in Fleißem. This is the marriage which led to the possibility of this family group being my fourth great-grandmother Maria Katharina’s family.

Matthias and Maria Katharina Marry

Matthias WAGNER married Maria Katharina HARTERT on 4 January 1791 in Fließem. Matthias was twenty-nine years old and Maria Katharina was twenty.

By the end of the year, their first child Nikolaus was born two days before Christmas on 23 December 1791 in Fließem. He died less than two months later on 9 February 1792.

Maria Katharina’s mother Elisabeth HEINZ died  23 September 1794 in Fließem. She lived to see her two daughters marry and give her grandsons born within two months of each other in 1791. Sadly she lost one before her death and the other would die a year after her.

Matthias and Maria Katharina’s next two children were born about 1797 and 1799 and shared their parents’ names. Their son Matthias died on 8 April 1800 at the age of 3 years. Their daughter Maria Katharina died on  16 July 1803 at the age of 4 years.

The second child’s death was not the only one during that week. The maternal grandfather Johann HARTERT died on 13 July 1803.

The Napoleonic Wars had begun the previous May. Times must have been hard for Matthias and Maria Katharina who had lost three children and both of her parents. Matthias who was a sheepherder (Schäfer) in Fleißem shared the same occupation as his father who was from Gondorf. Were his parents still living? Had they moved away from Sefferweich?

Matthias and Maria Katharina had several more children. My third great-grandfather Johann was their fourth child but would grow up as the oldest of four boys. Johann was born on 16 June 1804, Peter on 8 August 1806, Calixtus Nikolaus on 16 April 1808, and Johann Friedrich on 26 May 1810.

Matthias WAGNER died on 30 December 1814 at the age of 53. Maria Katharina was left to raise her four sons between 4 and 10 years old.

Her youngest, Johann Friedrich died on 28 March 1818 at the age of nearly 8 years.

Maria Katharina HARTERT died on 31 July 1823. At the time of her death, her three living sons were not yet of age. Johann had turned 19 the previous month, Peter would turn 17 the following month, and Calixtus Nikolaus was 15.

Even though the youngest of the boys had an interesting and unusual name, I have not found further trace of him.

My third great-grandfather Johann was 25 years old when he married my third great-grandmother Anna Maria KERSCHT (est.1793-1876) on 22 February 1830 in Mettendorf.  Anna Maria appears to have been older than Johann.

As I now know Johann’s brother Peter was living and working in Mettendorf in 1837, I wonder if Peter may have lived with his brother and been a witness to their marriage. The list of records to be obtained at the Archives in Bitburg is getting longer and longer.

Peter WAGNER married Elisabetha FASSBINDER (1801-1853) on 10 June 1837 in Ferschweiler. Peter was 30 years old at the time and his bride was 35. Their religious marriage took place two days later in Ferschweiler.

Peter’s wife Elisabetha died at the age of 51 years on 10 January 1853 in Ferschweiler. She had given him three daughters, two of whom were still living. The youngest of these two would die the following year. The FB Ferschweiler which covers up to the year 1899 does not include a date of death for Peter. Did he live into his nineties, passing away after 1899, or did he move to another town?

His brother Johann died at the age of 58 years, the same age as his father had been at the time of his death, on 15 June 1858 in Mettendorf.

There are still many questions which need to be answered concerning this family. However, I believe I am on the right track concerning this couple being Matthias WAGNER and Maria Katharina HARTERT aka SCHACMOTTE. Now all I need to have a new version of the fan chart printed out. But I think I’ll wait until I need it for a presentation. In the meantime, I hope to add a few more missing names to this 9-generation chart.

[1] Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Mettendorf Dekanat Neuerburg, Band 1 A-M Band 2 N-Z (1992).
[2] Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Kreuzerhöhung und St. Stephan – Fliessem – Mit allem Einzelgehöften und Mühlen 1662-1899, PDF (Trier 1998, version Aug 2011).
[3] Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch Pfarrei Seffern 1663-1899 mit dem Gemeinden Heilenbach, Schleid, Seffern und Sefferweich sowie Balesfeld, Burbach, Feuerscheid Lasel, Nimhuscheid, Wawern (bis 1803) (Trier 1995/1996).
[4] Richard Schaffner, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Sancta Lucia Ferschweiler mit: Diesburgerhof (ab 1803) und L(a)eisenhof (ab1830) 1680-1899, PDF (Kordel, 1999).

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

14 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #38 Brick Wall – Unraveling the Tangled Surnames”

  1. Given what I’ve learned from you about how people operated under multiple surnames in this region, your reasoning seems solid to me. Maybe a DNA test is the only way to know for sure, but that far back I am not sure how reliable one would be, assuming you could find an appropriate descendant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. This makes me feel good about the research and that you are learning from me, Amy. This may not be too far back for DNA. While I was writing I thought about how there weren’t many descendants left since she only had one sister. I’ll have to look into how the sister’s line continued.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The main town/village is Dusslingen. I did that research back in 2012/2013. I actually have to go back and verify the documentation, but if it is correct, it goes back to the Hertneck (the name morphed into Haerter at some point), a family of German knights that served the local Count of Tubingen. Here is a link that explains it pretty well: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=:571639&id=I651396795 . I have photos of some of the Haerter castles.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy, Just one more thing…I’ve just connected with a Haerter cousin. Wm. R. Hearter, Jr. I believe he manages the rootsweb link I posted. his g-grandfather and my 3x g-grandfather were brothers.

    Liked by 1 person

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